Pineapple Baked Chicken Breasts

3/4    tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2    tsp. Sweet Paprika
1/4    tsp. Garlic Powder
4       Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (about 2 lbs. total)
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
2       Tbsp. Extra-virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2       Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated)
4       Thin Round Slices Pineapple
1/4    Cup Red Onion (diced)
2       tsp. Cilantro (freshly chopped)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine Italian seasoning, sweet paprika and garlic powder. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

In a large oven-proof skillet, over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Cook the chicken on the top side until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from the heat and sprinkle chicken all over with the seasoning mixture.

Sprinkle the top of chicken with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and most of the Parmesan cheese. Arrange a pineapple slice on top of each piece of chicken. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and remaining Parmesan. Bake until cheese is melty and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Garnish with red onion and cilantro before serving. Serves 4.

Rich and Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup

1 1/4 Cups Yellow Onion (finely chopped)
1       Cup Celery (diced small)
1       Tbsp. Olive Oil
3       Cloves Garlic (minced, or 1 Tbsp.)
2       (14.5 oz.) Cans Low-sodium Chicken Broth
1/2    tsp. Dried Rosemary (or 1 1/2 tsp. fresh, minced)
1/2    tsp. Dried Thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp. fresh, minced)
1/8    tsp. Nutmeg
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper (to taste)
1       lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast (pounded evenly to 1/2 inch thickness, or 2 1/2 cups cooked, shredded rotisserie chicken)
1       (16 oz.) Package Potato Gnocchi (or homemade gnocchi)
5       Tbsp. Butter
6       Tbsp. All-purpose Flour
2       Cups Milk (plus more to thin as needed)
1/3    Cup Heavy Cream
2       Cups (2 oz.) Fresh* Spinach (roughly chopped and packed firmly in cup)
Shredded or Shaved Romano or Parmesan Cheese (for serving, optional)

*Do not use frozen spinach in this soup, it tends to get mushy and unappetizing.

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and saute 6 minutes, add the garlic and saute 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Pour in the broth, add rosemary, thyme, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add it the chicken breasts (if using the rotisserie chicken wait to add until the end) and bring to a slow boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and allow to simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 8 to 12 minutes (or until temperature reaches 165 degrees in center).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, cook and stir constantly for 1 minute. While whisking vigorously, pour in the milk and continue to whisk until it is smooth and there are no lumps. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue whisking and cook until the mixture thickens and lightly boils. Stir in the cream and remove from heat.

When the chicken is done remove it from the soup and let it rest 5 minutes, then dice or shred it into pieces. Check the veggies to be sure they are tender. If not, let them cook a bit until they are. Add the gnocchi to the veggie and broth mixture, cover and simmer for the recommended time as directed on the package. Reduce to low heat. Stir the milk mixture into the broth mixture and then add the chicken and spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts, about 1 minute. Serve warm with Romano or Parmesan cheese if desired. Serves 5.

Note: Rice or pasta can be used to replace gnocchi if desired.

Mint Brownies

3/4    Cup Unsalted Butter (12 tablespoons)
3       oz. Unsweetened Bakers Chocolate (1 oz. squares)
3       Large Eggs (room temperature)
1/2    tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
3/4    Cup All-purpose Flour

Mint Layer:
3       Tbsp. Unsalted Butter (softened)
1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Milk
3/4    tsp. Peppermint Extract
2       Drops Green Food Coloring

Chocolate Topping:
1 1/2 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate (1 oz. squares)
1 1/2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

Place the rack in the center space of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 inch pan and set it aside.

Prepare the brownie layer:
In a heat-proof bowl, set atop a pan of simmering water so that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, melt the 3/4 cup of butter and the 3 oz. of chocolate together. Stir frequently and watch it carefully so the chocolate doesn’t burn. When the chocolate has nearly melted, remove it from the heat and stir until smooth. Set it aside and let cool completely.

Once the chocolate has cooled, add the eggs, one at a time, beat well after each one. Add the vanilla extract and sugar, beating thoroughly. Add the flour, then beat until blended. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the middle appears set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the brownies cool completely.

Prepare the mint layer:
In a medium bowl, beat the 3 tablespoons of softened butter and powdered sugar together. Add the milk and peppermint, beating until smooth, then beat in the food coloring. Spread over the cooled brownie base and refrigerate until firm. (Be very sure the brownie base is totally cooled or the mint mixture will melt).

For the topping:
Melt the 1 1/2 ounces of chocolate and 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter together, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over the chilled layer of mint then spread it out with a spatula. Gently cover the entire surface with a thin layer of chocolate. Place in the refrigerator to set, then cut into squares. The brownies will cut more easily and be tasty when chilled. Yields 16 brownies.

Store leftover brownies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Sauteed Cabbage

Tender and caramelized with tasty brown bits, this humble veggie dish will surprise and delight you!  Don’t skip using the butter with the olive oil and the apple cider vinegar at the end, they are important to elevating the finished flavor of this dish. Also do not be alarmed at the amount of cabbage to begin with, it will cook down considerably.

1       Small Green Cabbage (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
1       Tbsp. Extra-virgin Olive Oil
1       Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2    tsp. Black Pepper (freshly ground)
1/2    Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar (plus additional
         to taste, if desired)
1       Tbsp. Fresh Thyme (chopped, optional)

Cut the cabbage in half from its top, down through its’ core. Place the cut-side down on the cutting board, then slice it as thinly as possible around the core, so that you have fine ribbons of cabbage. Discard the core.

Heat a large saute pan or similar heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted add the cabbage, salt and pepper. Saute for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender and begins to brown. It is not necessary constantly stir it. Leaving it undisturbed for a minute or two allows it to develop brown, caramelized bits, which are very flavorful.

Remove from the heat and stir in the apple cider vinegar. Taste and add a bit more salt and pepper to your taste. You can also add an additional splash of the apple cider vinegar if you would like a bit more zip. Sprinkle with thyme. Serve warm. Serves 6.

Cabbage Barley Soup

1    Cup Dried Brown Lentils (rinsed)
1/2 Cup Medium Pearl Barley
3    Medium Carrots (peeled, sliced)
2    Ribs Celery (chopped)
1/2 tsp. Poultry Seasoning
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1    Bottle (46 oz.) V8 Juice
4    Cups Water
8    Cups Cabbage (shredded, about 16 oz.)
1/2 lb. Fresh Mushrooms (sliced)
3/4 tsp. Salt

Place the lentils, barley, carrots, celery, poultry seasoning, pepper, V8 juice and water in a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker. Add the cabbage.

Cook, covered, on low until lentils are tender, 6 to 8 hours.

Stir in the mushrooms and salt. Cook, covered on low until mushrooms are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Servings: 8, makes 3 quarts of soup.

Orange Strawberry Juice

2    Oranges
4    or 5 Strawberries
4    or 5 Ice Cubes
3    Cups Water
2    tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Ginger (shredded)
Pinch of Salt

Peel the oranges. Wash and cut the strawberries into pieces. In a blender, add all the ingredients and blend everything well. Run the juice through a strainer to get rid of any solids. Pour the juice into serving glasses and serve. Makes about 4 cups.

Ceasar Salad in Pepper Parmesan Bowls

2    Cups Parmesan Cheese (shredded)
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper (coarsely ground)
2    Romaine Lettuce Hearts (cut into bite size pieces, about 6 cups)
1    Cup Grape Tomatoes (halved)
3/4 Cup Caesar Salad Croutons (slightly crushed)
1/4 Cup Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing

In a small bowl, toss cheese with the black pepper. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Evenly sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture into the pan to form a 6 inch circle; cook, uncovered, until bubbly and edges are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skillet from the heat; let stand 15 seconds. Using a spatula, carefully remove cheese and immediately drape over an inverted 4 oz. ramekin (or similar type glass or cup); press cheese gently to form a bowl. Cool completely. Repeat with remaining cheese, making 8 bowls.

In a large bowl, combine romaine lettuce, tomatoes and croutons. Just before serving, drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Carefully fill each Parmesan bowl with salad and serve. Serves 8.

Do Nothing Cake

2   Cups Granulated Sugar
2   Cups Flour
2   Eggs
1   tsp. Baking Soda
1   tsp. Vanilla
1   (16 oz.) Can Crushed Pineapple (undrained)

1/2 Cup Butter
1    Cup Sugar
3/4 Cup Evaporated Milk
1    Cup Coconut
1    Cup Nuts
1    tsp. Vanilla

Cake: preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch cake pan. In a large bowl stir together the sugar, flour, eggs, baking soda, vanilla and pineapple until well combined. Pour the batter into the greased pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer onto a wire rack and set aside.

Icing: In a large saucepan over medium heat combine the butter, sugar, evaporated milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for 5 minutes or until mixture is thick. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the coconut, nuts and vanilla. Poke holes in cake with a skewer and pour the mixture over it.  Let cool, serve and enjoy.

Spring Minestrone

2    Leeks (white and pale green parts only)
2    Carrots
2    to 3 Medium Red Potatoes
6    Cups Vegetable Broth
1    Bunch Asparagus (2 to 3 cups diced)
1    Cup Peas (or Sugar Peas sliced)
1    (15 oz.) Can Cannellini Beans
2    to 3 Tbsp. Fresh Dill
Salt to Taste

Trim off the roots and dark green tops of the leeks. Cut leeks in half lengthwise. Rinse very well, fanning out leaves to remove hidden dirt. Drain well then slice them in small half-moons. Peel and dice the carrots. In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, saute leeks and carrots for 5 to 6 minutes. Clean and dice the potatoes. (peel if desired) When the leeks are softened add the potatoes and broth to the stock pot. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. (or until potatoes are just tender)

Remove the woody ends from the asparagus and slice into about 1 1/2 inch pieces. Roughly chop the dill.

When the potatoes are just tender add the asparagus, peas, white beans (rinsed and drained) and fresh dill. Stir and return to a light boil. Simmer for 3 minutes or until asparagus is tender. Add salt (and pepper if desired) to taste. Serves 5.

Classic Potatoes Au Gratin

4     Large Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes
2     Cups Heavy Cream
1     Cup Milk
1     Clove Garlic
2     Bay Leaves
1/2  tsp. Grated Nutmeg
3     Sprigs Thyme
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Thinly slice the potatoes on a mandolin or using a sharp knife.

Place the cream and milk into a large, deep sauce pan along with the garlic clove, nutmeg and bay leaves. Add the sliced potatoes to the pan and cook on a simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the pan and discard the garlic clove and bay leaves. Layer the potatoes in a well buttered oven safe dish. Pour the infused cream/milk over the potatoes. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. To make sure potatoes are cooked, insert a paring knife into the potatoes to check if they are tender all the way through.
The top should be golden brown and bubbling. Serves 6.

Smothered Cheesy Sour Cream Chicken

4    Chicken Breasts
4    Slices Mozzarella
1    Cup Sour Cream
3/4 Cup Parmesan (freshly grated, divided)
1    Tbsp. Cornstarch
1    tsp. Dried oregano
1    tsp. Dried Basil
1    tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper (freshly ground)
Fresh Parsley (chopped, for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat rectangular baking dish with a bit of olive oil.

Mix the sour cream with a half cup of Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, garlic powder and cornstarch. Stir till mixed.

Lay the chicken breasts in the baking dish, top each one with a slice of mozzarella cheese and smother it with the sour cream mixture. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 1 hour. Serve chicken over rice and garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 4

Santa Fe Baked Chicken Breasts

4       Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
4       tsp. Taco Seasonings
1       (15 oz.) Can Black Beans (drain, rinsed)
2       Cups Corn Kernels (fresh, frozen or canned)
1 1/2 Cups Salsa (fresh, drained of excess liquid)
1/4    Cup Cilantro (chopped, plus extra for garnish)
1       Cup Mexican Cheese Blend (shredded)
1       (4 oz.) Can Green Chillies (chopped, mild medium or hot, to taste)
Sour Cream Dollop (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and spray a 9x13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Trim chicken breasts and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the taco seasoning. Set aside.

Add the black beans, corn, salsa and cilantro into the casserole dish and mix until evenly combined. Place the seasoned chicken breasts on top of the veggies and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through, then remove from the oven and discard the aluminum foil. Spoon green chilies over the chicken and top with shredded cheese.

Return to the oven, uncovered to melt the cheese, approximately 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven, top with reserved cilantro for garnish. Serve with the veggies on top or to the side and add a dollop of sour cream on top. Serves 8.

Oven-baked Pineapple BBQ Chicken Foil Packs

4   Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts
2   Cups Pineapple Chunks
1   Red Bell Pepper (diced)
1   Green Bell Pepper (diced)
Salt and Black Pepper (to taste)

1/2    Cup Prepared BBQ Sauce (your choice)
3       Cloves Garlic (minced)
1 1/2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
2       Tbsp. Olive Oil
1       Jalapeno Pepper (sliced)
2       Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1       tsp. Dried Oregano
Fresh Cilantro (chopped, to taste)

Foil Packs: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lay four 12x12 inch squares of foil out on your work surface. Place pineapple chunks and bell pepper pieces in the middle of each piece of foil. Season with salt and pepper. Top each one with a chicken breast. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. If the breasts are thick you can slice them in half, so they cook through.

Sauce: In a bowl combine BBQ sauce, olive oil, paprika, minced garlic, lemon juice, oregano, cilantro and jalapeno pepper. Mix together until combined. Divide the sauce over top of each chicken pack and sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro.

Fold the foil over the chicken and veggies to close the pack. Pinch the ends together to seal pack closed.

Transfer the packs to a baking sheet and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender. When chicken is done, carefully open the packs, spoon up a bit of sauce over the chicken and broil for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp up the chicken. Serve immediately, garnish with more chopped cilantro if desired. Serves 4.

No-Bake Coconut Cream Lush

4   Cups Nilla Wafer Cookies
6   Tbsp. Unsalted Butter (melted)

8    oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
1    Cup Granulated Sugar
8    oz. Container Cool Whip (thawed)
1/2 Cup Sweetened Coconut Flakes

3    oz. (1 box) Instant Coconut Cream Jell-O Pudding
2    Cups Whole Milk
1/2 Cup Toasted Flaked Coconut

Coat a 9x13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray.
Blend the Nilla Wafers in a food processor until finely ground; add in the melted butter and blend until well combined. Press the mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until combined and fluffy; add in the Cool Whip and flaked coconut and continue to mix until combined. Spread evenly over the Nilla Wafer layer.

Wipe out the bowl and pour in the Jell-O pudding powder and milk. Whisk vigorously for 2 minutes until thickened and set. Pour the mixture over the cream cheese layer. Sprinkle the toasted coconut flakes over the top. Refrigerate until set, 4 hours. Slice and serve. Serves 16.

Surf ‘n Turf Foil Packs

1/2 lb. Sirloin Steak (cut into 1 inch cubes)
1/2 lb. Shrimp (cleaned, deveined)
2    Ears Corn (cut into 4 pieces each
1    Cup Grape Tomatoes
1    Small Red Onion (cut into thick slices)
1    Lime (sliced into wedges)
2    Cloves Garlic (thinly sliced)
1    Tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1    Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves
1    tsp. Ground Cumin
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1    Tbsp. Fresh Parsley (chopped)
Additional Lime Wedges for garnish (optional)

Heat the grill to high. Cut 4 sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil about 12 inches long.

Divide steak, shrimp, corn, tomatoes, onion, lime and garlic between each foil sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with Old Bay, thyme, cumin and black pepper.

Fold each foil pack crosswise over to completely cover the food mixture. Roll top and bottom edges to seal. Place foil packs on the grill and cook until shrimp are cooked through and steak is finished to your liking, 6 to 8 minutes per side. When done, open foil, garnish with parsley and serve with lime wedges. Serves 4.

Easy Shrimp Gumbo

4    Tbsp. Butter
1/4 Cup All-purpose Flour
1    Small Yellow Onion
1    Medium Green Bell Pepper (chopped)
2    Ribs Celery (chopped)
2    Garlic Cloves (minced)
12  oz. Andouille Sausage* (sliced into 1/2 inch pieces) *do not substitute other sausage if at all possible
1    Tbsp. Cajun Seasoning (without salt)
Salt and Pepper (to your taste)
1    Bay Leaf
1    (15 oz.) Can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
4    Cups Low-sodium Chicken Broth
1    lb. Medium Shrimp** (peeled, deveined)
3    Green Onions
Cooked White Rice (for serving)

In a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter then add the flour. Cook, stirring constantly until flour darkens to a caramel color, about 10 minutes. Be very careful not to burn it or you will need to start over.

Add the onions, pepper and celery, stir around until they soften, about 5 minutes more. Stir in the garlic and sausage and season with the Cajun seasoning, salt and black pepper. Stir in the Bay leaf, diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

In the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the shrimp. Once the shrimp turn pink and are cooked through, taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your taste. Stir in the green onions, reserving some for garnishing. Spoon gumbo over top of individual bowls of cooked white rice. Serves 4

* You really need Andouille. It provides a very specific flavor associated with the dish, so try your hardest to find it.

** For added flavor leave the tails on the shrimp while they cook.

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

4   Tbsp. Butter
8   Slices White Hawaiian Sweet Bread
8   Slices Sharp Cheddar Cheese
4   Slices Provolone Cheese
8   Pineapple Rings
1   Cup Teriyaki Sauce

Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. In a large skillet over medium heat, place half the bread slices, butter side down. Top each slice of bread with 2 slices of cheddar cheese, 1 slice of provolone, 2 pineapple rings and 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce. Top with a second slice of bread, butter side up.

Cook until bottom bread slices are golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes more. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Key Lime Pound Cake

2       Cups Butter (softened)
2 1/2 Cups Sugar
2       Tbsp. Key Lime Zest (grated)
6       Large Eggs (room temperature)
2       Tbsp. Key Lime Juice
1       Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
4       Cups Cake Flour
1       tsp. Salt
3/4    Cup 2% Milk

1       pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese (softened)
1/2    Cup Butter (softened)
1       tsp. Key Lime Zest (grated)
1       Tbsp. Key Lime Juice
3 3/4 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
Lime Slices for Garnish (optional)

Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch fluted tube pan. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and zest until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the lime juice and vanilla and mix on high for 1 minute. Add 1 egg at a time, mix on low speed until yellow disappears. Scrape down the bowl as needed and between each addition. Sift flour and salt together into a separate, clean bowl. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture alternately with the 1/2 cup of milk, on low speed until just mixed, beginning and ending with flour. Transfer to prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with a moist crumb, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire to cool completely.

Frosting: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, lime zest and lime juice until smooth. Gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Beat until sugar is smooth and dissolved. Spread over top of cooled cake. If desired, garnish with lime slices and additional zest.

Makes 1 cake with 16 servings.

Chicken & Sweet Potato Kebobs

Canola Oil (for the grill grate)
1  tsp. Lime Zest Plus  1/3 Cup Lime Juice
1  Tbsp. Olive Oil 
1  Tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup
1  lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs (cut up)
2  Small Sweet Potatoes (cut up)
Salt and Ground Black Pepper

Set up the grill for direct cooking and heat to medium. Once hot, clean and lightly oil the grates with canola oil. Whisk together the lime zest, juice, olive oil and maple syrup in a bowl; transfer half to a small bowl and reserve for basting.

Trim and cut the chicken thighs into 1 inch pieces. Cut the sweet potatoes into 3/4 inch pieces. Add the chicken and sweet potatoes to the remaining marinade and toss to coat; let stand for 5 minutes. Thread the chicken and sweet potatoes onto skewers; discard the marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Grill, covered turning occasionally, and brushing with marinade, until chicken is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Serves 4.

Brownie and Berries Dessert Pizza

1    Box Betty Crocker Brownie Mix (or make your own batter)
Butter and Eggs (as called for on brownie mix box)
1    Pkg (8 oz.) Cream Cheese (softened)
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2    Cups Fresh Strawberries (sliced)
1    Cup Fresh Blueberries
1    Cup Fresh Raspberries
1/2 Cup Apple Jelly

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. (or 325 degrees F. for dark or non-stick pans). Grease the bottom only of a 12 inch pizza pan with cooking spray or shortening.

In a large bowl, stir brownie mix, butter and eggs until well blended. Spread in the pan. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 2 inches from the side of pan comes out clean or almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over brownie base. Arrange berries over cream cheese mixture. Stir jelly until smooth; brush over berries. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled. Cut into wedges. Serve. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator. Serves 12.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

1     Single 9” Pie Crust (baked)
2     lbs. Fresh Strawberries
1/3  Cup Granulated Sugar
1/3  Cup Honey
1/2  Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2  tsp. Cinnamon
1     Pinch Salt
1/4  Cup Cornstarch
1/4  Cup Water
Whipped Cream (to serve)

Crust: Either make your own crust with a recipe for a single 9 inch pie crust or use a store bought one prepared according to the package directions. The crust will need to be baked before you fill it. If you have never prepared an empty pie crust, please read up on it, there is a trick to it.

Strawberry Filling: Clean, de-stem and quarter the strawberries lengthwise, cutting very large berries into smaller pieces. Take 1 cup of the cut berries (reserve the rest), place them in a bowl and mash them with a fork until each one is mashed. Add the mashed berries and their juice to a large saucepan. Add the sugar, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbling, about 2 to 3 minutes.

In a small bowl mix the water and the cornstarch and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the cornstarch water to the cooked berries and continue cooking, stirring constantly while it bubbles, for 2 to 3 minutes until very thick and glossy. The texture when done should be incredibly sticky and thick. (if not keep cooking it). Turn off the heat. Add the remaining fresh strawberries to the pan and turn with a spatula until they are fully coated with the thick sauce.

Immediately scoop the strawberry filling into the cooled crust. Use clean fingers to arrange the berries in the top layer, you may need to flip some berries to make it look nice. Allow the pie to cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours before serving. Serve topped with whipped cream. Will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Makes 1 - 9 inch pie.

Grilled Ranch Potato Kabobs

2    lbs. Baby Potatoes (cut in half)
1/4 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Lemon (juiced)
1/2 Packet Ranch Dressing Mix
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Ranch Salad Dressing (for drizzling)
Chives (chopped, for garnish)

Preheat the grill to medium heat. In a large bowl, toss the halved potatoes with olive oil, lemon juice and ranch dressing mix. Season with the salt and pepper. Thread potato halves the long way, onto skewers (about 8 skewers) and grill until tender and lightly charred, about 15 minutes. Turning them halfway through.

Be careful, the skins burn easily. If you are using wooden skewers be sure to soak the skewers in water for 15 minutes before threading the potatoes on. This will keep the wood from scorching.  When done, remove from the grill and drizzle with the Ranch Salad dressing and chives. Makes about 8 skewers.

Corn and Tomato Gnocchi Foil Packs

1    lb. Gnocchi (uncooked)
4    Ears Corn (cut from the cob, about 3 cups)
2    Cups Cherry Tomatoes
1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter (cut into cubes)
2    Cloves Garlic (chopped)
1    tsp. Salt
Ground Black Pepper (to taste)
Red Pepper Flakes
3/4 Cup Dry White Wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil (finely chopped)
Grated Parmesan Cheese (for serving)

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Cut 4 sheets of heavy duty foil about 12 inches long.

Divide the gnocchi, corn, tomatoes, butter and garlic evenly between the 4 sheets of foil. Season each packet with 1/4 teaspoon salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of black pepper. Drizzle the white wine evenly among the packets.

Fold the foil crosswise over the mixture to completely cover it. Roll the top and bottom edges to seal them. Place the packets on the grill and cook until tomatoes burst and gnocchi is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully open packets when done and sprinkle with basil and grated Parmesan cheese and serve. Serves 4.

Grilled Rib

Dry Rub:
1/4 Cup Smoked Paprika
1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
2    Tbsp. Salt
1    Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1    Tbsp. Ground Cumin

BBQ Sauce:
1/2 Cup Ketchup
1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1    Tbsp. Smoked Paprika
1    Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1    Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper (freshly ground)
1    (3.5 to 4 lb.) Full Rack Baby Back Pork Ribs*

*Important - If your ribs have a membrane on the back, remove it. Pat the ribs dry.

Dry Rub: In a small bowl, whisk together all the dry rub ingredients until combined. Set aside.

BBQ Sauce: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine all bbq ingredients. Cook, whisking often, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.

Heat one burner on your gas grill to low, or 200 degrees. For charcoal prep the grill with charcoal stacked on one side. Place the ribs on a large piece of heavy duty foil and coat on all sides with the dry rub. Let sit for 10 minutes then wrap the ribs tightly in the foil.

Place the ribs bone-side up on the cooler side of the grill and close it. After 1 1/2 hours rotate the ribs 180 degrees and cook for another 1 1/2 hours. Make sure the grill temperature does not exceed 200 degrees F. Once they are cooked for 3 hours, you should be able to see bones protruding from the meat ends.

Remove ribs from the grill and place on a large baking sheet. Open the foil and allow ribs to sit for 10 minutes. Heat the grill to 450 degrees F. (turn on all burners or add more coals and spread them out evenly)

Remove the ribs from the foil and place directly on the grill. Use a pastry brush to brush them generously with bbq sauce. Flip the rack and brush the other side. It helps to have 2 sets of tongs to flip the rack. Grill for 1 to 3 minutes more, until sauce is caramelized and meat has visible grill marks. Flip again and grill for another 1 to 2 minutes on second side. Remove ribs from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Smoky Grilled Potatoes

4    Large Idaho or Russet Potatoes (cut into wedges)
2    tsp. Garlic Powder
1    tsp. Salt
1    tsp. Black Pepper
1/2 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2    Tbsp. Fresh Parsley (chopped)

Bring a well-salted pot of water to a boil, add the potato wedges and cook until al dente, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.

Heat the grill to medium-high and oil grates. In a large bowl, mix together garlic powder, salt and pepper, then stir in the olive oil. Add the potatoes and toss gently to coat. Remove potatoes from the oil mixture and reserve the extra oil in the bowl.

Grill the potatoes, flipping once, until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the parsley to the reserved oil in the bowl and mix. Return the grilled potatoes to the oil mixture and toss again. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Pepperoni Pizza Cheeseburger

1 1/2 lbs. Lean Ground Beef
1       (7 oz.) Pkg. Pepperoni (chopped)
1       Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2    tsp. Garlic Powder
1/4    tsp. Onion Powder
1/4    tsp. Salt
1/4    tsp. Black Pepper
6       Hamburger Buns
3/4    Cup Pizza Sauce
6       Mozzarella or Provolone Slices

In a large mixing bowl, add ground beef, pepperoni, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Gently mix together until all ingredients are incorporated.

Form the mixture into 6 balls and press them down into round patties. Place the patties on the preheated grill. Cook on first side until juices start to build up on top, 4 to 7 minutes. Flip patties and grill an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until patties are cooked to your taste. If using cheese, place it on now. Place hot patties on the buns, top with 2 tablespoons of pizza sauce. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Note: other pizza toppings can be added if desired, like mushrooms, onions, green peppers etc...

Flakey Biscuits

2    Cups All-purpose Flour
1    Tbsp. Baking Powder
1    Tbsp. Granulated Sugar 
1    tsp. Salt
6    Tbsp. Unsalted Butter (keep very cold)
3/4 Cup Whole Milk or Buttermilk (cold)

For the very best results chill butter in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes before making recipe. Cold butter makes light and flaky biscuits.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with non-stick parchment paper. Set aside.
Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Remove the butter from the freezer and using a box grater, shred butter into the flour mixture and stir until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the milk, use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir until combined, do not overwork the dough.

Transfer dough to a well floured surface and use your hands to gently work the dough together. If dough is too sticky add more flour until it is manageable. Once dough is cohesive, fold in half over itself and use hands to gently flatten layers together. Rotate dough 90 degrees and fold in half again, repeat this step 5 or 6 times, but take care to not over work the dough. Use hands to flatten dough to 1 inch thickness and dust a 2 3/4 inch cookie cutter with flour. Cut out biscuits. Place less than 1/2 inch apart on baking sheet. Rework dough and cut more biscuits till all dough is used.

Bake at 425 degrees F. for 12 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Serve warm with lots of butter. Makes 6 biscuits.

Cornflake-Crusted Baked Chicken

1       tsp. Garlic Powder
2 1/2 Cups Buttermilk (divided)
1       tsp. Celery Seed (divided)
1/2    tsp. Cayenne Pepper, plus a pinch (divided)
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
4       Small Chicken Drumsticks (skin removed)
4       Small Bone-in Chicken Thighs (skin removed)
1       Cup All-purpose Flour
4       Cups Cornflakes Cereal (crushed)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Combine garlic powder, 1 1/2 cups buttermilk and 1/2 teaspoon each of celery seed, cayenne pepper and salt in a bowl. Add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Fit a rack over a large, rimmed baking sheet lined with heavy-duty foil. Combine flour, pinch of cayenne and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of celery seed in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Place the remaining 1 cup of buttermilk in a second bowl; season with salt and pepper. Place the cornflakes in a third bowl.

Remove chicken from the marinade, letting excess drip off; discard marinade. Coat the chicken with flour mixture, dip in buttermilk then coat with cornflakes, pressing gently to help adhere. Arrange chicken on prepared baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, 25 to 27 minutes. Serve with pickles alongside. Serves 4

Hot Dogs w/ Cast-Iron Beans

Canola Oil (for the grill)
1   Tbsp. Olive Oil
1   Small Onion (diced)
1   (15 oz.) Can Small White Beans (rinsed)
4   Plum Tomatoes (chopped)
2   Cloves Garlic (chopped)
2   Tbsp. Molasses
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2   tsp. Red Wine Vinegar
2   tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
6   Hot Dogs
6   Hot Dog Buns
Ketchup, Mustard and Relish (for serving)

Set up the grill for direct and indirect cooking and heat to medium. Once hot, clean and lightly oil the grates with canola oil.
Heat the olive oil in a 9-inch cast iron skillet over direct heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, garlic and molasses. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer skillet to indirect heat.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.

Grill the hot dogs over direct heat, turning occasionally, until warmed through, 5 to 6 minutes. Grill buns if desired. Serve hot dogs in the buns with ketchup, mustard and relish as desired and the beans on the side. Serves 6.

Note: To get the best out of your cast iron pan, it is recommended that you oil it after each use. Avoid putting it in the dishwasher, using soap or steel wool, as these things may strip the pan’s seasoning. Scrub off stuck-on bits of food with a paste of coarse salt and water. Then rinse with water and wipe with a paper towel.

Ritzy Ranch Mac ‘n Cheese

Cooking Spray
2    Cups Ritz Crackers (lightly crushed)
2    Tbsp. Powdered Ranch Dressing Mix
8    Tbsp. (1 stick) Butter (divided)
1    lb. Elbow Macaroni (or other short pasta)
Salt to taste
1    Small Onion (grated)
1    Clove Garlic (minced)
1/4 Cup All-purpose Flour
4    Cups Whole Milk
12  oz. Sharp Yellow Cheddar Cheese (grated, about 3 cups)
12  oz. Monterey Jack Cheese (grated, about 3 cups)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch (or other 3 quart) baking dish. Combine cracker crumbs and Ranch dressing mix in a bowl. Microwave 4 tablespoons butter in a bowl until melted; pour over the cracker crumb mixture and toss to coat.

Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes less than package directions for al dente (noodles will continue to cook in the oven, so don’t worry if they seem underdone). Drain, reserve pot.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in the reserved pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until a film starts to form on the bottom of the pot, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk, whisking until smooth after each addition.

Bring sauce to a simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Gradually add cheeses, whisking until melted after each addition. Season with salt. Stir in the noodles (sauce will thicken in the oven). Transfer to the prepared pan. Top with cracker crumb mixture. Bake until cheese is bubbly and crumbs are golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. Serves 8.

Spicy Fresh Corn Carbonara

4    Ears Corn
8    Strips Bacon (diced)
1    Red Onion (minced)
1    Clove Garlic (minced)
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
16  oz. Bucatini, Spaghetti or Linguine
2    Large Egg Yolks
1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Chives (for serving, garnish)

Cut the corn off the cob with a sharp knife. Transfer the kernels to a bowl and firmly scrape the knife against the cob to release and remaining liquid. Discard the cobs.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and bacon is very crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the corn and garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Season with the salt, red pepper flakes and reserve over low heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook to al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta.

Stir the pasta water into the corn mixture. Raise the heat to medium and bring the liquid to a gentle simmer. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. Add to the skillet and toss well to coat. Add the Parmesan, plenty of black pepper and the reserved bacon and toss to combine. Garnish with the chives. Serves 6.